Batman Returns (1992)
23rd June 2001
Local businessman, and generous city benefactor, Maximillian Shreck plans a legacy for his son Chip, so he draws up plans to build a new power station for Gotham city. However there's more to it than meets the eye as it is designed to drain Gotham of its power supplies.
When his secretary Selina Kyle uncovers this information she is shown the window, and its a long way down from the top floor. Selina survives her fall but her personality changes from her present weak nature to vengeful woman in the form of Catwoman who's out for revenge on Maximillian and Batman.
Batman has his work cut out when a freakish man appears from the sewers of Gotham. Rejected and dumped by his parents as a child he was raised by a group of penguins in the sewers (strange things to find in the sewer) and he has returned to the surface to find his roots. He has some evidence against Shreck and his polluting industries so he does a deal with Penguin to help him run as Major. However, Penguin has a more devious plan in mind and Gotham's first born of the rich and famous are in his sights.
For such a darkly lit film the DVD takes everything in its stride. The gloomy and gothic picture is marvel to watch with no signs of either artifacting or outlining, and all with a surprisingly low bit-rate too. Burton works wonders yet again with the winter settings giving Gotham a slightly warmer feeling, but there's still no escaping the bleak cityscape. Mind you their snow is a little bizarre - it looks too much like shaving foam for my liking.
Similar to Batman, the soundtrack is wonderfully haunting and dramatic. It really envelopes the soundstage and uses all of the available channels to their full potential. Whilst the score takes most of the soundstage there is still an ample amount of effects in all of the channels. The surround channels are hardly ever idle throughout the film with the dialogue clear and audible in the centre, although the subwoofer was rather restrained.
The only disappointment are the extras which only amount to some mediocre production notes and the menu is static and silent. For such a successful franchise you would have thought they could have managed to find some additional footage, even a theatrical trailer would have been a bonus.
Yet again the producers managed to find the perfect characters to play Batman's foes. Although Christopher Walken always plays the perfect bad guy I didn't think that it was one of his best performances. Mind you, Danny DeVito and Michelle Pfeiffer were perfect for their roles and I spent the majority of the film wondering just how Michelle got in and out of her costume.
Although Batman Returns was one of the most anticipated sequels in many years it really fails to deliver the killer punch. However, Burtons trademark dark and gothic settings are perfect for this film and together with the superb soundtrack it makes up for the rather poor extras.
- Production Notes